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Bloom’s Literature

Touchstones affair with Audrey complements the spectacle of exaggerated sentiment by showing love reduced to its lowest common denominator, without any sentiment at all. The fool is detached, objective and resigned when the true-blue lover should be All made of passion, and all made of wishes, All adoration, duty, and observance.

Will you be married, motley? As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires; and as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling. They are rst overwhelmed by the beauty of their mistresses, then impelled by that beauty to desire them. With Touchstone, matters go the other way about: he discovers that man has his troublesome desires, as the horse his curb; then he decides to cope with the situation by marrying Audrey:.

Come, sweet Audrey. We must be married, or we must live in bawdry. One of the hall-marks of chivalric and Petrarchan idealism is, of course, the high valuation of the lovers mistress, the assumption that his desire springs entirely from her beauty. This attitude of the poets has contributed to that progressively-increasing respect for women so fruitful in modern culture. But to assume that only one girl will do is, after all, an extreme, an ideal attitude: the other half of the truth, which lies in wait to mock sublimity, is instinctthe need of a woman, even if she be an Audrey, because as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling.

As Touchstone put it on another occasion: If the cat will after kind, So be sure will Rosalinde. We have a sympathy for his downright point of view, not only in connection with love but also in his acknowledgment of the vain and selfgratifying desires excluded by pastoral humility; he embodies the part of ourselves which resists the plays reigning idealism. But he does not do so in a fashion to set himself up in opposition to the play. Romantic commentators construed him as Hamlet in motely, a devastating critic.

They forgot, characteristically, that he is ridiculous: he makes his attitudes preposterous when he values rank and comfort above humility, or follows biology rather than beauty. In laughing at him, we reject the tendency in ourselves which he for the moment represents. The net effect of the fools part is thus to consolidate the hold of the serious themes by exorcising opposition.

The nal Shakespearean touch is to make the fool aware that in humiliating himself he is performing a public service. He goes through his part with an irony founded on the fact and it is a fact that he is only making manifest the folly which others, including the audience, hide from themselves. Romantic participation in love and humorous detachment from its follies, the two polar attitudes which are balanced against each other in the action as a whole, meet and are reconciled in Rosalinds personality.

She plays the mocking revellers role which Berowne played in Loves Labours Lost, with the advantage of disguise. Shakespeare exploits her disguise to permit her to furnish the humorous commentary on her own ardent love affair, thus keeping comic and serious actions going at the same time. In her pretended role of saucy shepherd youth, she can mock at romance and burlesque its gestures while playing the game of putting Orlando through his paces as a suitor, to cure him of love.

But for the audience, her disguise is transparent, and through it they see the very ardor which she mocks. When, for example, she stages a gayly overdone take-off of the conventional impatience of the lover, her own real impatience comes through the burlesque; yet the fact that she makes fun of exaggerations of the feeling conveys an awareness that it has limits, that there is a difference between romantic hyperbole and human nature: Orlando.

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For these two hours, Rosalind, I will leave thee. Alas, dear love, I cannot lack thee two hours! I must attend the Duke at dinner.

By two oclock I will be with thee again. Ay, go your ways, go your ways! I knew what you would prove. My friends told me as much, and I thought no less. That attering tongue of yours won me. Tis but one cast away, and so, come death! Two oclock is your hour? Silvius and Phebe are her foils in this: they take their conventional language and their conventional feelings perfectly seriously, with nothing in reserve. As a result they seem nave and rather trivial. They are no more than what they say, until Rosalind comes forward to realize their personalities for the audience by suggesting what they humanly are beneath what they romantically think themselves.

By contrast, the heroine in expressing her own love conveys by her humorous tone a valuation of her sentiments, and so realizes her own personality for herself, without being indebted to another for the favor. She uses the convention where Phebe, being unaware of its exaggerations, abuses it, and Silvius, equally nave about hyperbole, lets it abuse him.

This control of tone is one of the great contributions of Shakespeares comedy to his dramatic art. The discipline of comedy in controlling the humorous potentialities of a remark enables the dramatist to express the relation of a speaker to his lines, including the relation of navet. The focus of attention is not on the outward action of saying something but on the shifting, uncrystallized life which motivates what is said.

The particular feeling of headlong delight in Rosalinds encounters with Orlando goes with the prose of these scenes, a medium which can put imaginative effects of a very high order to the service of humor and wit. The comic prose of this period is rst developed to its full range in Falstaff s part, and steals the show for Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

It combines the extravagant linguistic reach of the early clowns prose with the sophisticated wit which in the earlier plays was usually cast, less exibly, in verse. Highly patterned, it is built up of balanced and serial clauses, with everything linked together by alliteration and kicked along by puns. Yet it avoids a stilted, Euphuistic effect because regular patterns are set going only to be broken to underscore humor by asymmetry. The speaker can rock back and forth on antitheses, or climb a pair of stairs V. Eliot has observed that we often forget that it was Shakespeare who wrote the greatest prose in the language.

Some of it is in As You Like It. His control permits him to convey the constant shifting of attitude and point of view which expresses Rosalinds excitement and her poise. Such writing, like the brushwork and line of great painters, is in one sense everything.


Theatre review: As You Like It at Richmond Theatre

But the whole design supports each stroke, as each stroke supports the whole design. The expression of Rosalinds attitude towards being in love, in the great scene of disguised wooing, fullls the whole movement of the play. The climax comes when Rosalind is able, in the midst of her golden moment, to look beyond it and mock its illusions, including the master illusion that love is an ultimate and nal experience, a matter of life and death. Ideally, love should be nal, and Orlando is romantically convinced that his is so, that he would die if Rosalind refused him.


But Rosalind humorously corrects him, from behind her pages disguise Am I not your Rosalind? I take some joy to say you are, because I would be talking of her.

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Well, in her person, I say I will not have you. Then, in mine own person, I die.

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No, faith, die by attorney. The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man. Troilus had his brains dashd out with a Grecian club; yet he did what he could to die before, and he is one of the patterns of love.

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Leander, he would have livd many a fair year though Hero had turnd nun, if it had not been for a hot midsummer night; for good youth he went but forth to wash him in the Hellespont, and being taken with the cramp, was drownd; and the foolish chroniclers of that age found it was Hero of Sestos. But these are all lies. Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love. I would not have my right Rosalind of this mind, for I protest her frown might kill me.

By this hand, it will not kill a y! It is not sorrow that men die from time to time, but that they do not die for love, that love is not so nal as romance would have it.

Series: Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations

For a moment we experience as pathos the tension between feeling and judgment which is behind all the laughter. The same pathos of objectivity is expressed by Chaucer in the sad smile of Pandarus as he contemplates the illusions of Troilus love. But in As You Like It the mood is dominant only in the moment when the last resistance of feeling to judgment is being surmounted: the illusions thrown up by feeling are mastered by laughter and so love is reconciled with judgment.

This resolution is complete by the close of the wooing scene.

Works (226)

As Rosalind rides the crest of a wave of happy fulllment for Orlandos behavior to the pretended Rosalind has made it perfectly plain that he loves the real one we nd her describing with delight, almost in triumph, not the virtues of marriage, but its fallibility: Say a day without the ever. No, no, Orlando! Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives. But as Rosalind says them, they clinch the achievement of the humors purpose.